Rishi Sunak’s Budget was missing some things and they’re kind of important

Chancellor Rishi Sunak spoke in the Commons for just over an hour, outlining the details of his first Budget as boss of the Treasury.

And while there were plenty of big announcements – not least a £12 billion package to help the economy cope with coronavirus – there were a few things noticeably missing from the statement.

They're not little things, either.

In fact, they include two of the greatest challenges the United Kingdom will face in the next decade.

And even the response to coronavirus had a few holes in it.

Here's a roundup of the important topics that were either completely absent, or could have done with a bit more attention.

1. Brexit


  • Budget watchdog announces cost of Brexit at £1,200 for each person in Britain

  • Tory Budget quietly doubles borrowing figure as Rishi Sunak makes huge spending pledges

Aside from coronavirus, Brexit is the biggest immediate challenge facing the country.

But you wouldn't know that for listening to Rishi Sunak's speech.

It was mentioned just once in his Commons speech.

And while it does come up a few times in the Budget red book – the scale of the impact on the economy probably warrants a little more discussion than that.

In their Budget review, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) said the cost of Brexit to economic growth would probably be around 4%.

That works out about £1,200 per head of population in the country.

2. Social Care


  • Fury as Budget pledges £6bn for the NHS – but £0 for struggling social care

There was £6bn in the Budget for the NHS – but £0 for social care.

Former Tory Health Secretary  Jeremy Hunt  said it was a "glaring omission" adding that there was a "desperate" need for a long-term social care plan.

The Independent Care Group (ICG) accused the Government of "failing to get social care done", while Age UK director Caroline Abrahams said the budget did "nothing to alleviate our anxiety".

And Labour's Lisa Nandy said: "We can't afford to ignore the social care crisis any longer: more older people stranded, alone, at home – or having to go to hospital to find treatment.

"This should have been the priority in today's Budget but it was completely conspicuous by its absence."

The Government recently launched its cross-party talks on how to deal with social care costs in the future.

3. Children's services

The Children's Society said not enough was included to reverse funding cuts to children's services.

Chief exec Mark Russell said: "Children’s services urgently need additional funding, and it is disappointing that more has not been done to address this.

"Too many children are not getting the help they deserve, without which they may be more likely to be unhappy, go missing and be at risk of criminal and sexual exploitation. "

4. Abolishing household fuel VAT

Back in 2016, during the referendum campaign, Boris Johnson , Michael Gove and Labour MP Gisela Stuart said that after Brexit, Britain would be able to abolish VAT on household fuel.

They wrote: "When we Vote Leave, we will be able to scrap this unfair and damaging tax.

"It isn’t right that unelected bureaucrats in Brussels impose taxes on the poorest and elected British politicians can do nothing."

Well, this is the first time there's been a Budget since Brexit – and there's no sign of it.

5. The climate emergency


  • Budget 2020: 13 nasty details hidden in the small print

The phrase "climate emergency" appeared nowhere in Rishi Sunak's speech.

There were a number of environmental measures outlined in the Budget.

But Greenpeace note there was an awful lot that's going to get us nowhere near our net-zero targets.

Rebecca Newsom, Head of Politics at Greenpeace UK, said: “Far from ‘getting it done’ for climate and nature, the Chancellor has completely missed the opportunity to address the climate emergency.

"Instead, by announcing £27bn for new roads, it seems he’s driving in the opposite direction. Ending the red diesel tax break and the Nature for Climate Fund announcements are important steps.

"But they are just a fraction of what is needed to get the UK on track to delivering net zero before COP26. 

“The government must lead by example if it’s to have any leverage to encourage other countries to increase their ambition at the global climate summit this year.

"The Chancellor will only redeem himself by rapidly increasing spending on climate and nature to at least 5%, making our buildings highly efficient and significantly boosting public transport in the National Infrastructure Strategy and Spending Review later this year.”

Oh, and Mr Sunak also added £500 to the cost of electric cars.


  • Budget 2020: Chancellor adds £500 to the price of electric cars

6. Coronavirus


  • Budget: Radical sick pay shake-up as billions pledged to cope with coronavirus

Yes, we know. There was loads about coronavirus. But there was a big thing missing.

Labour and union leaders complained the changes to sick pay rules don't go far enough – and don't cover enough people.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said there were "major holes" in the coronavirus package.

He noted there was "no extension of statutory sick pay to those on zero-hours contracts, nothing for others without a contract of employment, and no suggestion that sick pay levels will be increased."

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The government’s coronavirus plans will leave millions of workers behind. Without urgent action, too many will be plunged into poverty and debt.

“Today’s announcements won’t help the nearly 2 million people who miss out on sick pay because they don’t earn enough. Telling them to turn to the broken benefits system isn’t good enough. We need decent sick pay for all."

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